Halliwell had performed in Helsinki with the group but then was absent when the Spice Girls returned to the U.K. for an appearance on The National Lottery. “Unfortunately Geri’s not very well tonight,” Mel C, then known as Sporty Spice, told the audience. “Get will soon, Geri!” she added, pointing at the camera.
Geri, meanwhile, had retreated to her brother’s house in France to lie low. The girls flew on to Oslo without her and, on May 31, 1998, they announced that Geri had left the group, citing “differences between us.”
Obviously whenever someone leaves a good gig like that, rumors fly, and stories of tensions with other members of the group tend to soar the highest. In Halliwell’s case, talk of a power struggle with Brown was the most prevalent tale. Meanwhile, Geri thought she had made her intentions clear before she actually left.
“Everyone had their theories,” Beckham, the erstwhile Posh Spice, wrote in her 2001 book Learning to Fly. “That there had been some great row on the flight back from Helsinki. That we’d been hitting each other. The truth is that we’d all really had a laugh on that flight back… We didn’t know [why she took off]. Why she said that I have no idea; perhaps because it made her look better, because otherwise it was like admitting she had left us in the lurch. Which, of course, was exactly what she did. Geri Halliwell had left us totally in the lurch.”
“It was mad,” wrote Mel B in Catch a Fire. “We didn’t have a spare moment to absorb what had happened. We just had to get on with things.”